Preventing Plagiarism in Online Learning

Now more than ever, it is important to promote and enforce academic integrity. Online learning has opened doors for many and has changed the way people think about education. Although it has also raised the possibility of plagiarism and academic dishonesty, this should not be a deterrent from online teaching or learning. The Western Association of Schools and Colleges has put together a guide called Best Practice Strategies to Promote Academic Integrity in Online Education, which contains tips for institutions, professors and students on how to promote academic integrity in an online learning environment. These tips are categorized under Institutional Context and Commitment, Curriculum and Instruction, Faculty Support, Student Support, and Assessment and Instruction.

Here are some especially helpful tips that we have highlighted from the document:

Institutional Context and Commitment

  • Establish a campus-wide policy on academic integrity that articulates faculty and student responsibilities.
  • Encourage faculty to report every suspected violation and act upon it.
  • Secure student logins and password to access online courses and related resources, discussions, assignments and assessments.

Curriculum and Instruction

  • Require student engagement with the academic integrity policy.
  • Ask students follow-up questions to assignments such as, “expand upon this statement you made,” “tell me why you chose this phrase, description or reference,” and “expand upon the ideas behind this reference.”
  • Select one or two difficult concepts from the paper and ask the student to restate/rewrite the information.

Faculty Support

  • Use Google to search for a unique text string or unique phrase from the paper.
  • Keep student papers filed in the department by topic for reference.

Student Support

  • Emphasize assignments that require written work and problem solving (e.g., essays, papers, online discussions).
  • Use a variety of assessment strategies (quizzes, short and long papers, test questions that require the application of a theory or concept).
  • State whether the instructor/college will use a plagiarism detection service.

Assessment and Evaluation

  • Train faculty on ways to use the settings on the college’s learning management system to reduce cheating